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THE POSITION OF THE COPTIC CHURCH ON FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)

February 21, 2014

THE COPTIC CHURCH: FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IS UNCHRISTIAN AND CONTRADICTORY TO GOD’S WILL

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IS STILL PRACTICED BY SOME COPTS IN CONSEQUENCE OF SOCIETAL PRESSURE FROM THE DOMINANT MUSLIM SOCIETY

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WITHIN THE COPTS MUST STOP. IT’S FOREIGN, BARBARIAN PRACTICE

THE COPTS, CLERGY AND LAITY, NEED TO DO MORE TO ERADICATE FGM

H.G. BISHOP YOUSSEF MUST BE COMMENDED FOR HIS BRAVE POSITION

THE COPTIC CHURCH OPINION ON FGM IS NOT ONLY RELEVANT TO CHRISTIANS BUT TO ALL EGYPTIAN WOMEN

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Female genital mutilation (FGM) has no religious textual backing in Christianity (as it has in Islam[1]), or any support by the Coptic Church. In fact, the Coptic Church clearly and openly opposes the practice of female genital mutilation and finds it contradictory to divine values.[2]

One of the largest bishoprics of the Coptic Church is the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, which was established by the late Pope Shenouda III (1971 – 2012) in 1993. The Diocese covers the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. It includes 26 Coptic communities with 37 churches that are currently served by 44 priests. His Grace Bishop Youssef, one of the most learned and dynamic bishops of the Coptic Church, oversees it.

In the official site of the Diocese, Bishop Youssef asks the important question: What is the Christian perspective on Female Genital Mutilation? And he unambiguously answers that female genital mutilation is “contrary to divinely revealed principles.” Very clearly, he states that female genital mutilation destroys human life and disfigures God’s creation – the female body is part of that creation, which was seen by God as very good;[3] and it shouldn’t be interfered with. Further, female genital mutilation is “detrimental to health, threatening to life, and harmful to sexual function,” and, therefore, it “contradicts the will of God.” Adding to the opposition to this practice is the fact that it threatens healthy childbirth. Furthermore, God has blessed marriage as the Bible says, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your use.”[4] Female genital mutilation, therefore, Bishop Youssef says, is a violation of God’s blessing of, and defying of His intention for, marriage – that is, as the lay reader will understand, the rejoicing and enjoying, wife and husband together, of each other’s body and life.

Female Genital Mutilation is practiced by some Copts in Egypt, particularly in Upper Egypt, as a matter of assimilation to the Muslim majority. This must stop. There is no doubt that Bishop Youssef’s answer to the question about the Christian perspective of female genital mutilation is that of the Coptic Church; however, to be more effective in stopping the barbarian practice, other bishops of the Coptic Church must speak out against it more strongly. One is optimistic that, in the near future, Pope Tawadros II will condemn this very unchristian practice at the highest level, and lead the Coptic Church Holy Synod to issue an ecclesiastical canon banning it as contrary to God’s will. Meanwhile, Coptic organisations must work harder to educate the Copts on this issue: practices that have been followed by centuries die hard, but we can present female genital mutilation not just as unchristian, risky and unhealthy, but, also, as barbarian and foreign to us.


[1] Although there is nothing in Koran about female genital mutilation, there is no doubt that Muhammad approved it. Sunna (the traditions of Muhammad) is a major source for Muslim beliefs and customs.

[2] See below.

[3] Genesis 1:31.

[4] Proverbs 5:18.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    February 22, 2014 5:05 pm

    All organized religions are a blight on society.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      February 22, 2014 5:10 pm

      Look, I don’t like irrelevant and low quality comments. What has that to do with the topic of the article? You have seen the Coptic Church is condemning FGM and you don’t have a word to praise that but go on attacking.

  2. eib permalink
    February 22, 2014 11:04 pm

    In Egypt, where the national and religious conflict run so deep together, organized religion, as the Coptic Orthodox Church, is the difference between the life and death of the community. The comment above is a “low-quality” comment from an anti-Christian bigot.
    The faith a person holds is not as important as the faith a community holds together.

  3. eib permalink
    February 22, 2014 11:06 pm

    Like many Christian groups in the Early Modern Era, the Copts must define themselves culturally in terms of what they are not. To respect the integrity of a woman’s body, and to honor God by not altering it surgically is a powerful statement of defiance against the profanely-worshipping Ummah.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      February 23, 2014 7:45 am

      Very well said.

  4. February 23, 2014 12:49 am

    Reblogged this on SocialHumanRace.

  5. Eleonora Oldani permalink
    February 27, 2014 11:06 pm

    You say: “FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION IS STILL PRACTICED BY SOME COPTS IN CONSEQUENCE OF SOCIETAL PRESSURE FROM THE DOMINANT MUSLIM SOCIETY”

    Would you be kind enough to explain then why the Christian community (Catholics and Copts) in Egypt (and elsewhere in Africa) has practiced FGM LONG before the apprearance of Islam? There’s ample evidence out for everybody to read and understand.

    FGM is not just “still practiced by some Copts” – it’s the absolute majority of coptic girls who are mutilated and NOT because of any pressure (how should this be exercised anyway?!) by Muslims but by their own families who don’t want the girls to have a chance to get sexually aroused. THAT’s the whole issue of mutilating girls – ignorance and stupidity and DEFINITELY not religion. But if it where … how do you explain away that the Jews of “Beta Israel” practice FGM? Islam again?!

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      February 27, 2014 11:54 pm

      I think I know who you are. Anyway, it seems that you are in here to defend Islam. But the fact remains that Muhammad had approved of female genital mutilation and that is written very clearly in the main books of Muhammad’s tradition, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, that come only after Koran as sources of Islam. The stories of Muhammad in respect of female genital mutilation related in these books are authenticated and strong. This is why the four main Sunni Muslim schools of jurisdiction regard female circumcision as essential, as do all Shiite schools of jurisdiction. The Shafi School is perhaps the worst of all, and regards men and women who are not circumcised as kaffir (unbeliever); and since it’s the main school of jurisdiction in Egypt, female genital mutilation is so widespread in our country. In contrast, it is a fact that you will not find any backing of female genital mutilation in Christian scripture or writings, whether in the Bible or the Fathers or Church canons. Anyway, this blog is not about religion but about the Coptic nation and its culture. The article was not written to praise Christianity over Islam.

      You say: “Would you be kind enough to explain then why the Christian community (Catholics and Copts) in Egypt (and elsewhere in Africa) has practiced FGM LONG before the apprearance [sic] of Islam? There’s ample evidence out for everybody to read and understand.” Can you be so kind and cite for me this “ample evidence out for everybody to read and understand” that proves that the Copts “practiced FGM LONG before the apprearance of Islam?”

Trackbacks

  1. Some Copts practice FGM “as a matter of assimilation to the Muslim majority. This must stop.” : Jihad Watch
  2. Some Copts practice FGM “as a matter of assimilation to the Muslim majority. This must stop.” » Choosing Life - God's Gift To The Unborn
  3. PREVALENCE OF AND SUPPORT FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WITHIN THE COPTS OF EGYPT: UNICEF REPORT (2013) | ON COPTIC NATIONALISM في القومية القبطية
  4. PREVALENCE OF AND SUPPORT FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION WITHIN THE COPTS OF EGYPT: UNICEF REPORT (2013) « Stop FGM Middle East

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